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Revised LF-A good for 350km/h?

2009-05-28 12:12
Despite its F1 team being practically useless, Toyota is aiming to join the world’s top echelon of supercar manufacturers with the Lexus LF-A.

The Oriental supercar raced at the Nurburgring 24hr this weekend.

Competing in the essentially stock S8 class, it finished behind Aston Martin’s Vantage and an Audi RS4, yet the LF-A lapped consistently, clocking a few 7 minute 13 second times, and finishing the race without mechanical issues. Well, okay, the one LF-A did catch fire, but...

Racing at the Nurburgring was a key juncture in validating the LF-A’s development cycle, which has been a little longer than anticipated, as engineers endeavoured to broach the hallowed 200 mph (320km/h) barrier.

What the production car will look like is still a mystery, as the race cars neatly disguised any styling detail clues with obligatory sponsor logos. The production LF-A will wrap a different sheet metal form over the racer’s chassis and drivetrain, proportions though - should be quite similar.

Roadcar styling will differ from Nurburgring racer and motorshow concepts. Expect those neat triangularly grouped triple exhausts to find their way into production though...

Expect the road going LF-A to be an evolution from the show car which debuted at Detroit in 2007. Back then Lexus was very excited about the possibility of LF-A being capable of 320km/h. How expectations have risen since then...

LF-A has seen significant aerodynamic fettling since 2007 though. In an attempt to raise top speed from 320km/h to a supercar worthy 350km/h, Lexus LF-A engineers have been subjected to a rigorous routine of wind tunnel testing and engine tuning.

The car's development cycle has been so intense - with Lexus management sending the design back for re-engineering a few times - it makes one wonder if some of the F1 team's technical staff have not been working on the LF-A instead of Toyota's F1 race cars.

When fully homologated, LF-A will find itself in the rarefied company of Ferrari’s Enzo, Lamborghini’s Murcielago LP640 and Pagani’s Zonda F when it to comes to market early in 2010, the global economic crises notwithstanding.

The production LF-A is expected to make a patriotic debut at the Tokyo motor show in October, which should shore up an event currently losing exhibitors at an alarming rate.

LF-A is designed to be a thoroughbred supercar, right through from its 4.8l V10 engine producing a touch over 400kW, to the transaxle mounted, six-speed semi-automatic transmission.

Keen to keep residuals depreciation-proof for decades to come – and keep cars out of the hands of Japanese tuners – Lexus will allegedly limit the entire LF-A production run to only 500 cars, as befits a car worthy of true supercar status…

Inside Wheels24

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